A high school fire is ruled arson

June 2, 2008 5:11:40 PM PDT
A fire at a local high school burns a portable classroom to the ground.

Investigators say the fire at Pine Forest High School was intentionally set, and now authorities are looking for an arsonist. The fire was reported early Sunday morning.

Steel chair frames, charred books and a handicap ramp that leads nowhere, are all that is left after the fire.

The fire destroyed one of three auxiliary classrooms located behind the school.

"My understanding is that a passerby was going by the school and saw smoke and flames ... called in the fire," Cumberland County Schools Spokesperson, Wanda McPhaul said.

When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting 30 feet into the air and there was a great deal of smoke.

Arson investigators believe the fire started near the building's front door and was intentionally set.

The flames from the fire were so intense, that the heat nearly caught a hut next to it on fire.

"I don't think it's anything that would prevent from using that building... but I think there may be some basic repairs that they'll have to do," McPhaul said.

Principal Cindy McCormick says the building was used for in school suspensions. Horticulture classes were held in the one next to it. In all, about 60 students have been displaced.

"I'm sure that she has made some arrangements to perhaps utilize classrooms that otherwise might be used for a planning period for a teacher or use some of the more public areas like the media center if necessary," McPhaul said.

School administrators say they are glad school is just about out for the year, so the loss of the building is not going to hurt them too much.

There is $1,000 reward being offered for information that helps solve this case.


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